Marc Lepesqueux collides with container ship while leading La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro yesterday morning

Marc Lepesqueux sailing Maisons Pierre, who was leading La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro fleet during the early hours of yesterday morning, collided with container ship south west of the Scilly isles shortly afterwards.

Sailing with two reefs in the main and a reefed Solent, Lepesqueux was at the helm of Maisons Pierre when he noticed, under the boom, the cargo ship looming up in the dark. Realising the collision was unavoidable Lepesqueux beared away and jumped below deck to protect himself from the shock.

Fortunately, apart from severe shock, Lepesqueux escaped unscathed and his yacht is currently being escorted by the catamaran support boat from the Ecole Navale that follows the race.

Gilles Chiorri, aboard the Ecole Naval catamaran, described the situation: “The conditions were really rough before the collision with the cargo ship, travelling on an east-west course, Marc was leading the fleet in some strong 30 knot winds, rough sea and rain. When Marc realised that a collision was imminent and unavoidable, he jumped below deck just in time to avoid being caught in the shock. He was then able to call us on the VHF and we went to search for him. The beacon was literally torn off, so a search in the dark, with rain, strong wind and huge seas ensued with some difficulty, particularly as the beacon, placed in the most secure part of the boat, was torn off. By the time we rejoined Maisons Pierre, Marc, had secured the boat and cleared the deck of its rig, sails and broken mast. The skipper is safe and sound despite the shock. We are now under motor heading for the port of Falmouth.”

Meanwhile the rest of the Figaro fleet are heading for the finish line with the leaders just 16 miles away. Jérémie Beyou (Delta Dore), Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) and Oliver Krauss (Espoir Crédit Agricole) are fighting it out on the water on a downwind spinnaker leg attempting keeping as close to the lay-line to Port Bourgenay. If Beyou continues to hold his position at the front of the fleet not only will he take his first leg win but will take the overall win of La Solitaire Afflelou le Figaro.